Though Captagon has been around for decades in the West; it first appeared on the market in the 60’s – this tiny pill may now be fueling the war in Syria, according to a report by Reuters.
Mainly used as treatment for hyperactivity and depression, the pill was banned in many countries by the 80’s because of its addictive nature. Since it’s not associated with injecting or inhaling, it retains its medical respectability, but nevertheless, it is a potent, addictive drug that puts you on a ‘high’.
In 2010, one-third of the world’s supply of Captagon, i.e seven tonnes, ended up in Saudi Arabia, from where it made its way mainly to Syria and other Middle Eastern countries. By 2014, Syria was no longer just a route for the transportation of the pill; it had become a major producer.
Both the spokespersons of the Syrian army and the rebels swear that the other side is relying heavily on Captagon. The effect of the drug increases alertness to a level where, according to one soldier, “you can’t sleep, you can’t even close your eyes”. The amphetamine tablet based on the synthetic drug ‘fenethyline’, induces a state of euphoria in users, making it possible to stay awake for days without any sense of fatigue. For the protagonists in this seemingly endless war, that’s a huge advantage in combat, given that death may be a given anyway.
Illegal sales of the drug funnel millions of dollars into war-torn Syria’s black market economy, funding mercenary fighters and weapons. Religious ideologies and political agendas aside, one tragic fallout of this war may be that it has turned Syria into a major producer and consumer of amphetamines.